About five years ago, our neighbors to the south had two small house fires, about one month apart. The first one occurred in the wee hours of the morning, and the fire trucks and ensuing commotion did not even rouse my sons or my dog. The second one occurred during the middle of the day, during the work week, when no one was home. Fortunately, no one was hurt. Our houses are close together, though, so I had some concern about our place. Plus, I have a vivid imagination and have watched a few bad movies, so a car explosion or two did come to mind.
Still, what I wondered was this: in the event of fire--assuming my loved ones were out of the house and safe-- what would I take with me?
The answer was immediate: my journals. They are handwritten, sloppy things on spiral bound notebooks, legal pads, portfolio notebooks, numbered on the cover with the ensuing dates contained within.
They are filled with the stress and heartbreak of a lifetime, pink “while you were out” messages blossoming like a wild garden from some pages because I was desperate to write something of meaning, and all I had to show for it was exhaustion and a lot of goofy phone calls. They have notes about how my older son always announced how he was going upstairs now to take a shower, every night, like a proclamation. My younger son took care of the neighbor’s cats and came home and said he realized he was spoiled, just like the cats: I don't know, maybe he had to have daily cream and salmon. My ex husband threw his coffee grounds in the parking lot one Sunday morning when we were exchanging children, like he was baptizing the asphalt. The journals say, “today is the day Dad dies.”
They are my photos, little snapshots in time.
I haven’t been writing in those journals too much lately. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s because I write to here, or because I’m trying to spend more time on publishable pieces, or maybe I’m just trying to connect, and not be an Emily Dickinson with snippets of pencil writing on the backs of envelopes stuffed into drawers.
Still, I have snippets of notes in my purse that that seem intensely personal. And I have my blog, and it’s available to almost anyone, anywhere.
Now, in the event of fire, assuming your loved ones are safe, what’s the first thing you’d take with you? I'm just wondering. It seems important, rather like, what would you do if you had 24 hours left to live?